HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — When TyQuane Goard played in the low post last season, the 6-foot-7 former George Washington High star was considered undersized for the role. As the Marshall men’s basketball team prepares for its first season under new head coach Dan D’Antoni, he’s learning he’s just the right size for that spot within D’Antoni’s new system.
Goard, who transferred from Ohio University to Marshall as a forward, had to play big out of necessity last season. At one point, four Thundering Herd players standing 6-9 or taller were unavailable – J.P. Kambola (eligibility issue), Cheikh Sane (injury), Yous Mbao (injury) and Elijah Pittman (suspension).
That left former coach Tom Herrion forced to employ a smaller lineup with Goard playing center. The Herd had a 16-game streak with Goard starting in the low post. D’Antoni sees Goard as a post player, too. Right now, he has the junior penciled in as a ‘4,’ a position usually considered power forward, but D’Antoni said he’ll be a power forward with a twist.
“We’re not playing with a back-up, stand-in-the-lane type of player,” he said. “I’m not asking him to do that. All we’re asking him to do is be quick, deny. If he comes in here, move his feet to keep the ball out of the post. We’ll help him if he gets in there.”
Goard likes the open nature of D’Antoni’s offensive and defensive schemes. He feels they can accentuate several different facets of his game. He can show his athleticism in the open floor as well as his effectiveness in the post.
“This year, it’s more whatever you can do,” Goard said. “There’s so much spacing. I’m a great passer, so off of picks, I can pass or I can just dunk. It’s all about trying to make a play in there, being quick. So I think it’s great.
“It’s more about spacing, making everybody else better,” he added. “Last year, we’d get down screens and not have really good angles. This year, we have better angles.”
Goard doesn’t want to completely abandon his jobs from last season. He wants to anchor the defense, which means leading the charge on traps.
“He told me, with traps, he wants me to be the main one up front trapping, speeding teams up,” Goard said.
He also wants to remain the Herd’s garbage man, scoring on putbacks and doing the dirty work underneath. He averaged 6.3 points last season in 25.4 minutes a game. That’s the third-highest total among players who finished the season. Goard was third on the team in rebounds (4.7 per game), led the team in total steals (27) and was second behind Sane in total blocks (22). He also was tops in field goal percentage (53.4) among players who took at least 30 shots.
Yet D’Antoni thinks he’s capable of more. He doesn’t see too many post players in Conference USA that can hurt Goard, and feels that those who try to take advantage of him in the post will find themselves at a disadvantage. D’Antoni has spent the summer workout sessions trying to show Goard that his ceiling might be higher than he ever thought.
“I don’t know if he understands how hard he can play,” D’Antoni said. “Sometimes, we’re going to have to challenge him a little bit as to doing everything he can do. I think he plays hard, but he might be able to do more than he thinks he can. I think that’s the biggest thing, getting him to realize he can be more than just this guy.”
After spending last season as an unconventional post player, Goard said he’s ready to break away from convention even more this year, and embraces the challenges D’Antoni puts in front of him.
“He’s going to push everybody to try and make you a better person and the best player,” he said. “He pushes me very hard and I try to take in as much as possible.”
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.